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Tumamoc Hill could shut down if hikers disobey wearing face masks

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-25 00:31:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tumamoc Hill has been requiring hikers to wear masks since it reopened back in May, but not everyone has been following the policy.

Now, there could be repercussions.

Here’s some context --

At least 1,000 people walk on Tumamoc Hill every day, which is why officials say, that makes masks a must for safety.

Ben Wilder is the Director of the Desert Lab with the University of Arizona, which owns Tumamoc Hill.

He says today is the start of a two week trial period to monitor mask usage on the hill.

“The options are wear a mask on the hill or we’ll close. Unfortunately we’re seeing that the percentage of people wearing masks is very low. Anywhere from 20 to 30 percent,” said Wilder.

So for the next two weeks, they'll record how many people wear their mask in hopes it will increase.

“We’re not drawing a line in the sand, but we need to see significant improvement. That means at least the doubling or we’ll be forced to close again,” he added.

Carly Wilcox is a Tumamoc regular. She says it’s upsetting to think the Hill could close.

“I would love to see this stay open. This is like the one outlet we have because Mt. Lemmon’s closed. You just gotta wear a mask,” Wilcox told KGUN9.

Jada Cervantes agrees. She says Tumamoc Hill is the only place she can go with her family to workout because gyms are closed.

“People not wearing masks is sad and like frustrating,” added Cervantes.

Through this period, Wilder says his team will only record the amount of people wearing masks.

“We’re going to be looking, analyzing the data for our peak walking times from three hours in the morning from 5-8am and then also in the evening from 6-8pm,” Wilder told KGUN9.

While they won't be enforcing any rules, they will have a progress tracker on the hill.

“We’re going to have a white board that’s going to have the previous mask percentage and then the current mask percentage. My hope is that we will continue to keep the hill open and people start being able to adapt in these times and start taking care of one another,” said Wilder.

Meantime, Wilcox says the answer to keeping Tumamoc Hill open is simple.

“We gotta come together and just wear the masks, get through it,” she added.